Dark Angels at the Bartlesville Iron Halo ITC Major, Day 2: A Gunum Tournament Report

Hog-on-Hog Violence

Hey, everyone! Chase “Gunum” Garber here with the exciting conclusion of my breakdown of the Iron Halo Major GT. When we last left our dark and brooding green hero, he was falling into a deep depression as the realization of pure Eldar aerial superiority closing on him. After going through a 3-0 first day, with moderate scores to support my clear Dark Angel purity, I was to be paired up with Ryan Olson. A fellow Warhog. The Eldar Warhog, 11th in Aeldari, and current pilot of a 6 Eldar flyer list. I had to steel myself. I had to find my faith in my secret, Dark Angel heart. I wanted to win. I wanted to prove my three elite models could stand up to 6 high damage flyers with the right focus on play choice, I wanted…

Five more drinks.

In this write-up, since the subject matter and my list was a bit more fleshed out in the first part, I will be focusing on how I ended up where I did in my planning for a game against an opponent I deeply respect on the table, and how we can try and prepare to play against a hard counter to our lists.

[Editor’s Note: Chase and ANAmal.net wrote an excellent Start/Stop Competing Dark Angels article, you can find it here.]

Round 4 – Aeldari United – Craftworlds and Drukhari

The Competition

Ryan 'Tryan' Olsen - Click to expand

Player: Ryan Olsen

Aeldari-Drukari - Kabal of the Black Heart Spearhead Detachment
HQ: Archon

HS: Ravager - Dissy Cannon x3
HS: Ravager - Dissy Cannon x3
HS: Ravager - Dissy Cannon x3

Flyer: Razorwing JetFighter - Disintegrator Cannon x2
Flyer: Razorwing JetFighter - Disintegrator Cannon x2

Aeldari-Craftworld - Alaitoc Spearhead Detachment 

HQ: Farseer Skyrunner 

HS: Night Spinner - Disintegrator Cannon x3 
HS: Night Spinner - Disintegrator Cannon x3 
HS: Support Weapon - Shadow Weaver
HS: Warp Hunter

Aeldari- Craftworld- Air Wing

Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch - Two Starcannons
Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch - Two Starcannons
Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch - Two Bright Lances
Flyer: Hemlock Wraith Fighter

ITC Mission 5 Precious Cargo; Hammer and Anvil Deployment, NOVA terrain.

Pre-Game Thoughts

Thanks to the wonderful program Best Coast Parings, I knew what I was walking into right away. The Warhogs wen to dinner as a team the night of day one, and Ryan sat to my left, across from me for dinner. Cyle “Naramyth” Thompson sat directly in front of me and my brain began to go into overdrive of what I needed to accomplish to win tomorrow. As we ordered food and a plethora of fruity beverages, all I could think about was secondaries for my game.

Picture this dinner scene: A long dinner table akin to a certain magical school, a Gunum, clad in the armor of his Dark Angel faith with a Jameson neat in his hand. A Naramayth across from him, his Admech robot garb pulled over his ears to block out the LOUD MUSIC of the venue. Gunum looking up every so often to find solace in Naramyths’ advice, only to be met with clearly distracted grunts of approval or general acceptance of our shared turmoil. He, in the loud audio of Sum-41. Me, staring endlessly in my glass muttering about Executioners as objective holders.

Okay Cyle. HEAR ME OUT, ” (Foreshadowing. Classic)

Grunts dismissively. Not feeling his teammate’s exuberance.

This is the big time. His list – CHASE waves his drink about aggressively versus my underdog. I have some ideas to beat him but I just don’t know if it will work.

CHASE proceeds to launch into a tirade of options for secondary mission choices. Most of them are charitably described as “crazy.” NARAMYTH remains unimpressed. 


So here’s what I ended up going with:

1- Big Game Hunter

I decided to focus on what I needed to do, and what I felt was obtainable. Planes needed to die if I wanted a chance and lucky for me, Ryan had brought six of them.

2 – Engineers

Next, after playing against a version of this list locally quite often, I knew their mobility would be almost unmatched if I couldn’t contest him. I also knew, that one of his biggest targets would be my Leviathans and my Executioner. I could try and take some of the pressure off of those models by presenting him with better targets and at the same time threaten the inevitable recon I knew he was going to take. I ended up choosing something I felt was a distraction, and also durable enough to handle his flyer rush in case he got first to turn. And it was at this moment, I should have realized that even the best-laid plans can fall about.

What do engineers say exactly, Cyle?

NARAMYTH beeps and boops several times, sighing in machine code

Exactly. Anything that is a non-character or non fortification can be an Engineer unit. That means… yes… I think I know the thing. I’m going to make the most durable unit I can into my Engineers! Leviathans! Four points, easy street.

NARAMYTH offers more sighs of robotic disappointment, launching into a long string of counterpoints, issued in binary.

You’re right, that is a fair point about Dashboard Confessional being way worse than anyone in 2006 realized. I think I need the Leviathans to kill models, not hold objectives. The only other option is the Plasmacutioner… and the Aggressors inside! Genius! GUNUM stands up, pumping a fist in victory.

NARAMYTH powers down in disgust, never to be awoken again.

3 – Recon

The group was well and drunk by this time. I, still trying to live my truth that I had made the right choices, began to think the only last possible option was to play the same game as Ryan and just to try to play it better than him. He wants the board position, and I want to blow his planes up (and out of board position). Clearly, the best way to do that is to push forward and blow his planes up and replace them with my models.

I felt between my infantry, Leviathans and my tanks presence I would be able to hold on for the four turns I needed and get the recon points to take this game to the bank.

The Purple Dark Angel Eaters

The Archons Yacht Club circa 2019

Ryan’s Secondaries

  • Recon – Planes, Planes everywhere.
  • Butcher’s Bill – His list was full of 2D shooting, he was going to kill two units at a time.
  • Big Game Hunter – He wanted to shoot my big stuff, cause if that was dead he wins. It was only three points, but it makes sense.

The Game

Readers. I need to apologize right away on this one; I did not take any pictures at all. I was just too focused on the game. The map is essentially the same as the Stream Table that was shown in my last write up. We got to the table, shared our secret Hog handshake then immediately began to set up. He seemed bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I had sunken dark eyes as though I had stayed up too late pulling the secrets fro… nevermind.

This was a back and forth deployment. I won the roll for side selection, choosing the side of the table where I was able to push my primary objective to be right behind the L blocker, hoping to invest in my engineer choice. As we began deploying I realized that I had fewer drops than him, and my best chance of winning this game was pushing as much pressure onto his primary objective as I possibly can. So with that in mind, I put all my scout infantry directly across from his objective, standing on some shipping crates for cover, and prepared to run forward and cover the objective with bodies.

He had deployed 100% of his list on his furthest backline, making sure that the only gun I had in the range of anything was my Executioner if it moved its full distance forward. We rolled off for the first turn and I Lost it.

Well, what did that mean? It meant all my infantry was inches away from his Warp Hunter. It meant that my entire backup plan of pushing into his LoS blocker to put pressure on that bonus point went out the window. It meant that I was not in a good place.

Although there was a lot of build-up to this battle report, it’s going to be a quick one.

Ryan’s turn one was moving his two Razorwings up both sides of the map, getting the flight stands in my two quarters, he then flew his other planes on a sharp arc to kill my snipers and Infiltrators. And that’s just what he did.

His turn was brutal for me, he killed every Infiltrator but one, every Eliminator, and my scouts.

My turn was straightforward but felt good enough. Per my pre-game planning, I had made my Executioner Tank, and the aggressors located inside to be my engineers. I had thought by investing that secondary with more durable units, I would get to be just durable enough to get my 4 points, but what I didn’t flush out enough is that I needed to shoot my guns to kill things, and my Plasmacutioner was the key to that.

My turn one was straightforward: I moved up both Leviathans to shoot at his Drukari planes One completed that mission, the other after measuring, was in the range of an Exarch and promptly shot it out of the sky. My Plasmacutioner overcharged and ripped down the final Dark Eldar plane. Three planes for all my troop choices? Seemed fine.

Unfortunately, his next turn was equally brutal for me. (This will go fast) He flew up his planes to be in range to Jinx then tear down one of my Leviathans. And that’s what he did – he cast Jinx on the Leviathan, then fired all of his planes at it, while the ravagers Fired into my non-jinxed Levi. When it was said and done, I had one Levi with 4 wounds left, my Executioner had taken 6 from his night spinners, and my other Levi was a smoldering crater.

I spent the following turn flailing wildly at his ravagers and planes, killing nothing but doing a bunch of damage.

His fourth turn was spent tabling me…Foooorr the Lion!

I lost. And with the loss, my dreams of an Iron Halo victory were passed onto my team member.


Post-Game Results

So I lost badly. Honestly, looking back at it, my all-in action to try and steal the game was also what cost me the game. The Engineers plan – though delightfully cheeky – didn’t matter at all. My Aggressors all got shot into tiny pieces and I just couldn’t pull it off. I wish this game was a bit more exciting, especially given the amount of thought that went into it.

That’s the issue with these elite-type armies, when you do run into a list that does strong, flat Damage, you can be melted into slag so quickly. Between his Exarchs, Jinx, and the Ravagers, I could do very little to punch back. If I had deployed more conservatively and if I had gone for the more of an objective game, working line of sight, I may have just lost my infantry over time to the Night Spinners instead of the planes.

I think I probably lost this game in deployment, as happens with many games in the competitive scene. It doesn’t matter what secondaries I pick if I get tabled on four. Ryan was a great opponent as always, gave me a good game, and had enough respect to not let up on the gas when he was taking my army to task.

Thanks, buddy, I’ll get you on the next one.

Final Score: 14 -31 (L)


Round 5 – Necrons

The Competition

Heath Shepherd - Necrons Click to expand

Player: Heath Shepherd

Necrons - Nihilakh Spearhead Detachment

HQ: Cryptek - Clock

HS: Doomsday Ark
HS: Doomsday Ark
HS: Doomsday Ark

Necrons - Sauhtek - Battalion

HQ: Imotekh
HQ: Overlord - Veil of Darkness 

Troop: 10x Immortals - Tesla 
Troop: 10x Immortals - Tesla
Troop:  5x Immortals - Tesla

FA: 9x Tomb Blades - Tesla

Necrons - Sauhtek - Air Wing 

Flyer: Doom Scythe
Flyer: Doom Scythe
Flyer: Doom Scythe

The Mission

ITC Mission 6 Crucible of Champions; Hammer and Anvil Deployment, NOVA terrain.

Pre-Game Thoughts

Coming off of that loss put me in a weird headspace. I didn’t even look at my next opponents’ list; I just walked up to the table blind. I had put all of that pre-game effort into my fourth game for it all to fall into shambles. I was in a weird space. When I got to the table, I saw it was Heath Shepherd from the Independent Characters team. I’ve seen him around but I’ve never played him or any of his team members. I found out later that he was the #4 Necron player and was doing great things with ‘crons and was pushing for number one.

One of my Warhog teammates is Cody “The Lich” Boe, affectionately called so since he has been playing Necrons for the past uh… Decade? 300 years? Who knows. Death Robots are weird and they just keep coming back. Thanks to games I’ve played against him, I already had a great game plan against Necrons before we even started setting up. I’ve found the majority of Necron lists are relatively the same, heavily leaning into the best parts of the book with a couple of small adjustments. Boe has great luck with the durability of Wraiths, whereas other people find their success with the shooting that comes from Tomb Blades. I planned to focus on knocking out the planes and owning the middle of the table to the best I could.

My Secondaries

  • Big Game Hunter
  • Recon
  • Butcher’s Bill

Their Secondaries

  • Recon
  • Big Game Hunter
  • Old School

The Summary

Pregame for this game was quick and easy. I took the -1 to hit spell package on my Libby, same old artifact going into the game. He “won” the roll off to go first, I choose the side of the table that had two giant solid walls, that I could hide my Leviathan behind as well as my Executioner. Thanks to that, I was able to hide from his big guns.

This was a game where deployment was huge, due to this table full of line-of-sight blockers. He put his barges as far back as possible, hid all of his infantry behind walls and then placed his Tomb Blades right on the line of his deployment. This was a game I wanted to go second, with 3 objectives down the center and one on the West and East, in each of our deployment zones, I knew center control was important. He fully deployed, I counter-deployed, hiding everything I had behind walls and conceding the middle to him.

His turn one started with him looking for targets for his Doom Scythe stratagem. He had a cool 6″ template that he placed around different areas in my deployment, looking for a juicy target, or if I had made a deployment mistake. Lucky for me, I was well aware of this big gun he had and deployed so at best he could hit 3 units. Unlucky for me, I had misplaced some Eliminators just to the right of my line of sight blocking terrain and that provided his Arks to have a shooting target. He ended his movement phase by running immortals up the left side of the table towards the N objective, his bikers had the Center and S objective as well.

He shot downtown, killed my exposed Eliminators, fired his planes into one Leviathan, and I made my saves. On the other side, he shot downtown and put got a disappointing 2 damage onto my other Levi. He moved his Tomb Blades up, eating up the middle of the table but only killing a single Infiltrator. All in all, his first turn wasn’t too impactful.

My first turn, on the other hand, was pretty powerful. My Executioner booked its head around to look at the trio of planes staring down at it. His paired up with a Leviathan stepping out as well. On the south side, my leviathan moved up and lit up the bikers, killing only a couple. The Plasmacutioner used Weapons of the Dark Age and deleted a plane, followed closely by the Leviathan putting 6 damage on one plane with hunter kills, and killing the other Doom machine. 2 planes down; the battle plan was coming together.

Sometimes you can hide the biggest of tanks.

Turn 2 started to see the power of the Necrons come into shape. He pushed forward to take the N objective, and also lined up his bikes for more shooting on my hurt Levi. His last plane flew over to my south Levi and lined it up for death beams.

In his shooting phase, he put two Doomsday Arcs into my Executioner, killing it. This in turn caused my angry Aggressors to jump out towards the N objective. On the other side, the remaining Doom Scythe his other Doomsday Arc put shots into the wounded Leviathan, only to do nothing to it. Then that was it. That was the turn. I had Aggressors standing out in the open, and both Leviathans still up.

My counterpunch was brutal. I moved both Leviathans up aggressively, keeping them alongside the characters. Then it was time to take these robots on the bullet train. My south Leviathan put all of its shots into the bikers and its missiles into the last plane. Killing both units. My north Leviathan killed everyone on the top objective.

My snipers in this game were only used to finish off units. They saw a lot of action but participated in very little of it.

Turn two death tolls.

On turn three, things were looking bad. He used his Veil of Darkness to shoot up the side of the table to take the south objective. The north objective becomes swarmed with Immortals and Necron characters. He sets up to shoot, using his Doomsday Arcs to kill some infiltrators, and lighting guns my N leviathan for approximately 2 total wounds.

My punch back was killing oodles of Immortals using my Aggressors and Eliminators, really earning their name, and gunning down Immotek and the Cryptek with one Storm Cannon each off of my Levithan. He used the Resurrection Protocols Stratagem on Immotek to try and stand back up, but failed the 4+ roll. Twice.

On Turn 4, the Doomsday Arks started to move forward, as they were the only thing remaining and I now owned the center. I snagged one DDA off of a cheeky fall-back-and-shoot situation when I had charged my Levi into some immortals, who weren’t able to hold on to the Leviathan.

This game was a low-scoring game for both of us, but I had a blast playing him even if things seemed very grim, very early.

The Takeaways

This game heavily relied on who went first or second. I think going second for this one would have been a boon for either of us due to bullets controlling the center of the board, so I lucked out there. I made some big 4++’s and those Doomsday Arks should be respected.

I’d play Heath again in a heartbeat, he took this loss well and it was great to play against a guy who knew what his army could do, even when the cards were stacked against him.

The Score

Final Score: 29 -14 (W)

Wrap Up

This game can be won and lost in deployment.  Going first can be -huge- but sometimes, when it comes right down too it, its a matter of model and terrain placement. Both of these games were very Who went first heavy, mixed with deployment choices. I wanted first in the Eldar game so I had a shot to hide and put pressure on his objectives. I wanted to go second in the Necron game because I needed to make sure I was about to force board control.

I hope you guys all enjoyed this two day GT write-up. I did end up at 14th place at this event and I was really happy with that turnout. This event is held at On the Rock Ministries, a retreat for at-risk youths. As a group, the event raised over 4,000 dollars for the organization to get some Emotional Support dogs. If you ever find yourself within Striking Distance of Bartlesville, Oklahoma I highly recommend reaching out to Jason Horn, the marvelous T.O, and see what all you can do to help out the event, even if it is just attending.

This has been a pleasure to talk about, thank you for exploring some Dark Angels with me.

Gunum out.